The Daily Record on Holford’s “Online Guide To Complete Health And Happiness”

The Daily Record have learned nothing from their previous gaffe in which they allowed an IONista to dispense erroneous information about food. Not content with that previous free advertising for Patrick Holford’s subscription service, they now argue that

YOU can now take the guesswork out of getting healthy with a leading nutrition expert [Patrick Holford’s] new online programme and website…The huge benefit of this programme is it gives clear and practical advice based on the user’s relationship between what they eat, their lifestyle and their everyday symptoms.

Readers can judge for themselves if Holford can correctly be described as a “leading nutrition expert”. However, that aside, we would argue that things are inevitably more complex than this. Many factors are involved in health and happiness, and is always a strong element of chance – for example, a healthy lifestyle may not help if you are hit by a bus. The idea that one can reduce health and happiness to an answer produced by an online programme is hideously reductive and simplistic. Readers with a good memory may recall how much Patrick de [sic] Vinci Holford loathes reductionism, much as it uses it to sell his pills.

The Daily Record goes on to state that:

because the questionnaire and analysis are based on 20 years of nutritional therapy in clinical practice which has worked for thousands of others, users can be confident in the advice they are given.

Clearly, nutritional therapy has been used for some time. However, because of the poor scientific methodologies used in so much of the work done in this area, alternative nutrition has frequently failed to adequately test whether or not its treatments work. There is usually not even a good quality system in place for reporting the adverse effects of nutritional therapy, and there is often even a lack of good evidence regarding the safety (or otherwise) of the treatments used. Even where there is evidence that certain treatments are not helpful, alternative therapists are often extremely slow to change their practice to acknowledge this – or they fail to change their practice altogether.

The Record argues that Holford’s programme is a way of circumnavigating “conflicting media reports” – oddly, Holford is responsible for contributing to confusion is health reporting, see, e.g., his unsustainable criticism on the review of fish oils that reflects his own misunderstandings. However, the Daily Record’s own article seems to be nothing more than one of the many media reports on health which lacks a foundation in good evidence. Of course, if certain media outlets will report absurd claims without asking for appropriate evidence, alternative nutritionists can very effectively publicise such programmes without needing to show that they work. This does not make me happy.

Why can’t british media show some of the backbone of german media and demonstrate some responsibility for what it disseminates to its audience?




Filed under patrick holford

6 responses to “The Daily Record on Holford’s “Online Guide To Complete Health And Happiness”

  1. This reads as nothing more than advertorial for this programme. Shame on Daily Record have they learned nothing? This borders on contempt for those readers who trust them.

  2. Yes – not even a very well-written advertorial, at that. I do wonder who wrote it…

  3. Pingback: annoyed dr reader

  4. Pfff.
    Anyway – great re-design Holfordwatch!

    Admin edit: thanks, we are thinking about a new banner as well. We use so many quotations that this style makes them easier to read.

  5. Tristesse

    I like what the german TV station did, they should be applauded for caring so much about standards.

    Letter-writing seems old-fashioned. What would be the new way of complaining or persuading other media to pay attention to whom they are promoting as experts and to highlight their conflicts of interest?

    • Hm – I don’t know what the appropriate form for lodging displeasure at shoddy standards would be. I suppose the other problem is that producers like the fact that Patrick Holford and other self-style pundits bring the whiff of advertising revenue but there seems to be no money in the Pollan message of, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”.

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